Category Archives: AF Harrold

Imagining animals and what they get up to

This post is going back a little, back to when the gang at Carden Primary were talking to AF Harrold about animals in the circus. They have sent their author some wonderful bits of writing, imagining ‘If they woke up as an animal…’ and its some truly fantastic stuff!

carden 1 carden 2 carden 3 carden 4 carden 5 carden 8 carden 9carden 10

Well done Carden, they were so good!

‘That Carden gang are odd aren’t they?’

AF Harrold is back and he’s pretty impressed to find little nuggets of ‘oddness’ in the Carden clan…

Dear people of Brighton.

Gosh, some of you are odd, aren’t you?

We had a very wide range of intriguing, interesting and bonkers unreal and non-existent books in last week’s homework.

Among my favourite titles were: How to Put On Pants (For Nudists); The Boy Who Let Two Old People Try to Get A Library [Card?] for Him But Then They Kidnapped Him, by Fizzlebert Stump (I liked the idea that Fizz might have written his own account of his adventure, in which you’d really find out what happened, without having to trust me to tell you the truth); The Blue Dinner Plate (although some of the other titles might seem weirder, I think this is probably actually the weirdest title I got sent, I love it).

The Blue Dinner Plate really intrigues me – I think the idea that the middle bit of the book’s the best because that’s when the blue dinner plate finds a friend makes me want to read the book. I never even realised that a plate might want to find some friends, but of course now I think about it plates usually come in families – you usually have four or six or more plates with the same design in the cupboard (and a posh set that only ever come out on special occasions). Maybe the blue dinner plate is the last one of a set, all on its own… You see just the title and that one bit of information in the review has got me thinking and that’s a good thing. Also, the idea that ‘at the end of the book everything goes wrong’ is an interesting one. Usually at the end of a book everything has come right, the baddies are punished and the goodies are safe or free or happy again, but it sounds like this book is just the beginning of the blue dinner plate’s adventures – it ends all wrong here, so maybe in the next book the plate gets to put things right… I wonder…?

Some of the books were a bit disturbing, like the tale of Zig Zog the Alien, who is warned by his parents to never leave the crater or he’ll be caught by the horrible spaceman, but of course (like any child in a story told not to do something) he does, and he gets caught by the spaceman and put in a cage and killed. I’m sure there’s more to it than that when you read the actual book, you probably find out why the spaceman’s doing what he does and how Zig Zog tries to escape before meeting his grisly fate… but that’s the thing about reviews, they can’t tell you the whole story, but just enough to make you want to pick up the book. I’m very pleased that the Nillab was so involved with the story that when Zig Zog got caught it made her cry – that’s the sign of a good book, isn’t it?

Another book that sounds like a good book, was The Lonely Girl, which, although it’s not the funniest or most exciting title, sounds like a book with a lot of heart in it and real story that would pull you in. It’s about a girl, Katie, who runs away from home because she thinks no one likes her – and I’m sure we’ve all felt like that sometimes. I know when I was your age I certainly did, and sometimes pretended to run away (although I never actually did). When Katie runs away she has an adventure, and although we’re not told what happens it’s making me worry for her. I Hope it turns out okay for her. Apparently the ending is a bit disappointing, but we’re not told why.

This was quite common in these reviews – a lot of people found the endings disappointing, but very few people told me just why that was… was it because they didn’t make sense, or they were sad when they should have been happy, or did it feel like the author cheated somehow, or was the last page missing when you borrowed the book from the library? It would have been nice to know!


One of the other things I liked about these reviews was the range of people you recommended the books to – not just kids aged 10-12 or 7 up, but to comedians and fire fighters and plumbers and people with vivid imaginations…


There was a lot in these reviews that made me laugh. Thank you for that.

Well done guys! It’s made us want to read all the reviews too! But there is no rest for our budding writers, the next task has been set!


This week I’d like you to imagine you’ve been kidnapped by some old people and made to clean their house.

I want you to write a little thing sort of like a poem that begins, ‘In the rotten cupboard I found…’

I’d like you to surprise me with a list of the odd and unusual things you found there.

I’d like you to think about how a poem-type-thing might look on the page. It doesn’t just go to the end of the line and start on the next, does it? Each object in the cupboard might have a line of its own, perhaps?

And do you want to say, ‘In the rotten cupboard I found…’ before each object? Or do you just want to say it once at the beginning? Or do you want to say it a few times, maybe every three or four items? (That would be a refrain, in poetry terms.)

And when you say you found some sausages I don’t want you to say ‘I found some sausages,’ I want some more details – ‘some stinky sausages’ or ‘some sausages made from squirrels and stoats’ or ‘some sausages shaped like mouldy bananas’.

Maybe try thinking about using your senses – so ‘some sausages that smelt like the juice from a bin’ or more metaphorically, ‘some sausages that smelt like sadness’ or ‘sausages that sounded like a disappointed clown’.

If you’d rather find nice things, wonderful things instead of nasty, mouldy things, you might write a ‘In the magical cupboard I found…’ poem-thing instead…

Or you might want to use a different word instead of ‘rotten’ or ‘magical’ – you might pick your own word – if you’re repeating the line you might want a different word each time (a set of rotten words or a set of magical words).

How many things are you going to find as you rummage in the horrible cupboard? Six, ten, fifteen? I don’t know. See how you get on.

And think about the poems you’ve seen and the poems you’ve read when you write it down – look at how they look on the page and try to make your writing look poem-ish.

There’s a fun little challenge for you.
Good luck and enjoy describing your horrible surprises.




Until next time….

Back from Australia and back to reality…

Carden Primary have impressed Ashley with their circus acts and its spurred him on to set the next task!

Hi there people,

I’ve come back from Australia now and I’m almost awake at the same time as everybody else.

It was very confusing over there. Not only was it the height of summer, but it was also eight hours in the future, so when you were having your breakfast at 8 o’clock in the morning, I was having afternoon tea at 4pm.

All very odd.

Anyway, home now.

Thank you so much for sending me the brilliant bits of writing and drawing you did last week. Some of them made me laugh a lot.

I thought I’d say a few words about some of my favourites.

I laughed and laughed when I heard about ‘Burt  the Baggiest Boy’ – he takes all his clothes off really quick and does a handstand. It’s not an act I actually want to see, in fact I think I’d probably pay Burt money to not do his act, but I loved the strangeness of it and the chutzpah.

I found Flaming Fire’s act slightly terrifying. I’ve seen fire breathers before, but never one who sets fire to the crowd’s eyes!

Also Tommy the Terrible Terrifier was rather scary too – he sets himself on fire and dives in a pool of sharks and crocodiles. I really liked the audience comments in the drawing for this one.

I also laughed when I read about Lilia the not so Legendary and her jumping through flaming hoops, especially how she always sets fire to her bum because she goes too low through the last hoop!

Solly the Fat made me giggle, because his was one of the few acts that didn’t impress the audience – he eats ten tubs of ice cream in eleven seconds, but the audience boo because the tubs are very small! Brilliant!

You all did great with that bit of work – especially doing the pictures as well and there wasn’t one that didn’t make me smile.

Thank you so much. Continue reading

Circus Names and Fancy Acts!

Dear new friends,

It’s hard to know exactly how to begin this, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t even know your names, so I can’t begin the e-mail with a  proper beginning that says ‘hello’ to you properly. You know, ‘Hello Susan and Dave and Ravi and Bridgid and so on…’ So I hope you’ll forgive me for just saying ‘new friends’ and understand that it includes all of you.

My name’s Ashley. That’s what the ‘A’ of the ‘A.F.’ stands for, and you should feel free to call me Ashley because I’m not a teacher or anything like that, so there’s no need to ‘Mr Harrold’ or ‘Sir’ me.

I’ve been told that you’re going to be reading my novel Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away From The Circus (And Joined The Library). I hope you enjoy it and aren’t so tired after reading the title (which is, I’ll admit, a little longer than many titles you find these days) that you never get round to reading the book. I think you’re going to enjoy it, especially the bit where Fizzlebert finds the golden ticket and gets to visit the chocolate factory, but is accidentally kidnapped by robots (who mistake him for the dog who rules the world) before he can even get there. That bit’s very funny…

Continue reading